Internet marketers can't ignore the need for quality, industry-specific site content. While there was much online chatter about new social and Bing developments, reports about the aftermath of Google’s algorithmic update dominated internet marketing stories this week, and investment in good content is clearly a marketing must.
Following last week's report that Google updated its algorithm to reward high-quality content sites, the beginning of this week saw ample online buzz surrounding ranking shifts – for better or worse. As Brafton reported, Sistrix released its table of the biggest losers in the algorithmic adjustment, indicating content aggregators that offer articles with breadth but no depth suffered the most.
At the same time, we covered reports suggesting that users are pleased with the algorithmic update. One report in The Atlantic suggests that “specialty sites” are faring well. Brafton investigated the No. 1 result in The Atlantic's report and found that the top result was an ecommerce site offering industry-specific content highly informational and relevant to site visitors (and the referring query).
Wired magazine released a study of the fall and subsequent rise of one site that may have been “falsely” caught by the algorithm, with the situation amended by a tweak. It seemed Google was updating its algorithm once more, with Google Fellow Amit Singhal suggesting that rewarding high-quality content is the company’s priority, and engineers are working toward 100 percent accuracy.
However, a later statement from Google makes clear that there will be no major adjustments to the current algorithm. As Brafton reported, Google advises site owners who believe they have been unduly penalized to contact them via Google's Webmaster tools.
As Brafton reported earlier this week, a report from GroupM indicates that 48 percent of consumers consult both search and social channels while making purchase decisions. While search is the starting point for 58 percent of online shoppers, social media sites are gaining ground as shopping research tools, serving as the first resource for 18 percent of consumers.
This may come as good news to marketers investing in social platforms – and it seems there are a large number of marketing execs who fall into this category. Brafton reported that SMBs are increasingly relying on social campaigns. A report from BIA/Kelsey indicates that small business marketers will be focusing on local social campaigns this year.
This group of advertisers may find Twitter is a ready-made marketing partner. This week, Brafton reported that the microblogging site has made clear that it wants SMB partners. It is supposedly developing locally conscious ad options for partners to effectively reach mobile users, as well.
LinkedIn may also be a more appealing social marketing platform – especially for B2B brands. Following Brafton’s reports that the company is seeing a rise in B2B sign-ins, the company has announced a Company Search feature. The search service promotes the social aspects of the site, rewarding brands for building connections by using the strength of contacts to filter search results on the site.
Not to be left out of the major search announcements, Facebook also made headlines this week for an updated Comment Box plugin. The plugin distributes social comments about site content across both Facebook users’ homepages and individual sites, thereby amplifying social engagement.
Facebook also generated some chatter this week for hiring a former Microsoft sales executive. The event is rumored to have caused a rift between Microsoft and Facebook, which have heretofore been known for their social search alliance. The two will most likely come out of the issue amicably, especially since Bing recently announced the expansion of Like data within general search results.
Not all Microsoft news this week was negative. The company also made headlines when a study indicated the Bing/Yahoo alliance is paying off for search marketers. Plus, the company generated a lot of buzz for a new deals search feature. The feature, available for desktops and mobile search, aggregates local deals to help users find nearby promotions. It is especially valuable for mobile searchers, as it allows them to filter deal results according to their locations.
The mobile-friendly announcement from Bing is somewhat ironic as competitor Google declared mobile channels will rise this year. As Brafton reported, Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, shared some stats at an IAB event last weekend indicating that mobile search rates were rising faster than desktop searches during the Super Bowl, suggesting mobile web usage is becoming mainstream.
Another development that could help boost mobile internet use is this week’s announcement of the iPad 2. The device will be available March 11 to U.S. consumers. As Brafton reported, the hype surrounding Apple’s latest tablet, combined with reports of tablet users' satisfaction with their internet experiences, may make tablet marketing a must.
Next week, we can expect to hear early reviews of the iPad 2. Marketers will also want to follow more reports about the updated Google algorithm’s impact on site rankings. Additionally, marketers will be congregating in California for SMX West next week, and the conference may produce a number of interesting headlines. Stay tuned!